As I was walking through the mall a couple of weeks ago, I passed by a store with a mannequin wearing a simple white t-shirt with pink floral lettering that read “Love is Enough”. I’ve been thinking about those three words ever since. Having been a shopaholic for such a long time, I never seemed to have “enough”. There was always something more I desired. In my head…a list of items I needed to purchase, and the list never seemed to end. Yet now, after being in therapy for over a year and working each day toward maintaining control of my shopping, I am feeling more like that t-shirt.
I no longer have an endless list of shopping desires. Of course, I still love clothing and fashion and can’t help staring at the shoes as I walk past them in Neiman Marcus. But I no longer “have to have” everything I like. I can admire it and realize that I don’t need it.
In fact, one of my favorite Youtube fashion bloggers did a collaboration with Nordstrom recently, and put together several trendy Fall looks. I enjoyed watching the video and really admired a few of the outfits she modeled. In the past, this would have triggered me to start clicking on all the links to purchase everything I loved. This time that did not happen. I didn’t feel the urge to go buy it all. I knew I had no need for the beautiful brown suede coat. I also knew I didn’t need the black suede Vince Camuto booties, even though they were super cute and on sale. I recognized (without having to buy, try and return) that the black dress, although gorgeous on her, would make me look short and frumpy. I didn’t obsess with any of the outfits, and was simply able to watch the video and then get on with my busy day.
The past month has seemed different to me in regards to my shopping. There has been less obsessing, compulsiveness and uncontrollable urges. Any shopping I have done has been well thought out and included many pauses and re-evaluation before purchasing. In other words, I’ve practiced mindful shopping…buying items with a purpose, that meet my standards, and have a meaningful place in my closet. I haven’t had buyers remorse…or obsessed that I shouldn’t have “done it”. There were no regrets and no mounting debt.
I began to analyze what had changed in the last month to bring all of this about? Has it been that months of training myself to pause before purchasing, recognizing my triggers and urges, facing my emotions, accepting and not trying to escape my bad days, has finally started to bring about better shopping habits? Or have I been able to see more clearly that shopping has never been the answer to anything I truly seek?
As I’ve indicated somewhat on this blog, I have been trudging through my “Change of Life” and feel I have experienced almost every perimenopause symptom that exists. Because of this, the past few months have been very difficult emotionally for me. I believe my perimenopause hormones have created havoc inside me causing me to be sad for no reason, worried for no reason and just an all around “hot mess”. Basically an emotional roller coaster. Initially, when I would experience one of these “low’ moments, I chose to shop or browse the online retail sites. I wanted so desperately to feel like myself and hoped shopping would get me there or at least would make me happy for a while. But I learned that it really never helped fixed anything. I was still sad, anxious and worried. I was just sad, anxious, and worried with a new outfit and less money!
I’m not sure if it just naturally “clicked” or if the supplements my doctor gave me to help with my menopause symptoms began taking effect, but I have slowly begun to feel like my old happy go lucky self again. Now with a more joyful heart and less anxiety I can say that it has not been clothing, shoes or handbags that have kept me going each day…it has been love. The love of my husband who has been patient and always there to comfort me. The love of my kids who make me smile and laugh, and feel so very grateful. The love of my friends who have cheered me up, shared their own struggles, and supported me in my journey. The love of my four dogs who are always excited to see me and want to be right next to me regardless of my mood, Most importantly, the love of God, who is with me and has carried me on my hardest days.
This has been a true shopping lesson for me and I have seen that shopping could not and will never buy me happiness or change my mood. Sure, there are times in my life where it has provided a fake escape and a short-lived uplift. But truthfully, during this hormonal battle it didn’t even provide that! Sometimes you need to get to a dark place to see the light. Shopping is not the light. It has been love that has brightened me. Not a new Prada bag. Not a sherpa lined combat boot. Not a soft cashmere scarf or sweater.
Just love and Love has been Enough.